Health protesters claim system is eroding
Hundreds of protesters converged at Toronto's Queen's Park and in four other Ontario cities to slam what they see as the erosion of the health system under the Liberal government of Premier Dalton McGuinty.
One speaker from the Ontario Health Coalition told the protesters that Ontario is seeing the biggest round of hospital cuts since the mid-1990s.
"We're losing 20 mental health beds, which is affecting our community patients," Betty Flood told reporters about the situation at the Ajax-Pickering hospital.
Cleaners are being laid off, which will also affect the ability to control infections, she said.
"That really outrages us," Flood said.
Giselle Tolkar said seniors in her area are worried about getting emergency care following cuts at their local hospital. "They've taken away our ICU. They've put our emergency on 14 hours. We want our emergency and our ICU back," she said.
The community fears the hospital will be completely gone within five years, Tolkar added.
Protesters from Brampton carried 129 pillow cases, each one intended to represent a hospital bed that was promised but not delivered.
"We were supposed to get a new, state-of-the-art hospital, which we did," said Bruce Haines of the Brampton Health Coalition. "But they've under-delivered significantly. We only got 479 beds (instead of 608). We've also lost our second hospital."
The march started at Metro Hall at John and King before going up hospital row on University Avenue and ending at the legislature.
"We haven't protested in about five years now," said Natalie Mehra of the coalition. "But we thought we should call together a major protest, and let the government know about the effects its policies are having on people across Ontario."
The other protests occurred in Kingston, Sudbury, Thunder Bay and Windsor.
An Ontario Health Ministry spokesperson told CTV Toronto that there haven't been spending cuts in health and that the ministry's budget has grown by 37 per cent in the past five years to $40 billion annually.
With a report from CTV Toronto's Matet Nebres